Friday, November 11, 2011

Lentils with Fruit

Here is the second in a series of recipes I copied from a cook book owned by a friend who lives in Mexico.  The book is called “ Mexico The Beautiful Cookbook” and this recipe, Lentejas con Fruta is from the region of Oaxaca.  It caught my eye because of the unusual combination of lentils and tropical fruits.  The combination of flavors was so intriguing that I knew I had to try it.  It would never have occurred to me to cook lentils with bananas and mangoes and yet it was delicious.  

Lentils most likely originated in India and have been a part of our diet since Neolithic times.  They were probably one of the first domesticated crops.  With 30% of their calories from protein, lentils are an excellent, inexpensive source of protein for those of us that don’t eat animals or birds.  Alone, they are lacking in a few of the essential amino acids but when you combine them with a grain, such as rice, the combination contains all of the essential amino acids that we need.  The other option is to sprout them.  Sprouted lentils do contain sufficient amounts of the two missing amino acids.
The original recipe called for bacon, chorizo and sausage which I replaced with the soy versions of all three of these meats.  I used Lightlife tempeh strips for the bacon,  Soyrizo for the chorizo and Turtle Island Tofurky beer brats for the sausage.  The recipe calls for a mango and a plantain but I couldn’t find a plantain so I used a firm banana.  I also cut down on the cooking times.  If I had followed the directions the lentils would have become mush.  Plus, I wasn’t using real meat and these soy products are already cooked.  Give this one a try, it’s the perfect fall dinner for a rainy night.  Serve it with a side of rice.

Lentils with Fruit
Adapted from Mexico The Beautiful Cookbook
Serves 6-8 - Use organic ingredients whenever possible
2 cups dry lentils
8 cups water
8 oz soy bacon, chopped
8 oz soy chorizo, casing removed and cut into chunks
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large red mango (or use two small yellow ones) Peeled and chopped into chunks
1 plantain or firm banana, sliced in rounds
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
6 small green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons oil
1 lb soy sausage
Place the lentils and the water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.
Lower the heat and simmer, covered for 20-30 minutes or until the lentils are just tender.
(if you need to add more water, use hot water)
Drain the lentils and reserve the cooking liquid.
In a large saucepan, saute the bacon in 1 tablespoon of the oil over a medium heat for 2 minutes.
Add the soyrizo and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the onions and garlic and cook for 3 minutes more.
Add the cooked lentils, half the mango, the plantain or banana and the salt and pepper.
Cook, covered, over a low heat for 10 minutes.
Add two cups of the reserved liquid and the green onions and cook for 20 minutes more.
While the lentils are cooking, heat the second tablespoon of oil in a skillet over a medium heat.
Saute the soy sausage in the oil turning them so that they brown all around.
Remove the sausages from the pan and slice into 1/2 inch rounds.
Add the sausages and the remaining mango to the lentils and and cook for 5 minutes more.
This should not be soupy but stew consistency.  If needed, simmer a bit longer to cook off any excess.

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